Smoked Pork Tacos are slowly smoked all day long until the pork is perfectly shredded! Topped with my Creamy Cilantro Sauce, these pork tacos are sure to be a crowd favorite!
We’ve been making these smoked pork tacos for years now, and I am so excited to finally share the recipe. This is one of those meals that I make whenever we have a big backyard party during the warmer months. People love smoked meat and, while it can be a little time intensive because the meat smokes all day, it’s relatively hands off and is a fun project to keep an eye on throughout the day.
What Cut of Pork to Use
Let’s talk about the specifics of this smoked pork taco recipe. The pork starts with a pork butt which, unlike how it sounds, is not from the rear of the pork. It’s actually from more of the upper shoulder region, and is well-marbled which makes it perfect for pulled pork. It can be sold bone-in or boneless and we’ve used both.
How Much Pork to Smoke
For the size of the pork butt, it really just depends on how many people you are cooking for. When we are just cooking for our family, I like a 4-5 lb pork butt, which gives us plenty of leftovers and we don’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. to start. Typically you want ⅓-½ lb per person, so keep that in mind.
Pork Dry Rub
The pork is covered with a dry rub the night before, allowing it a good 8-12 hours for soaking in a bunch of flavor. The rub that I use in this recipe is a combination of chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion powder, oregano, dry mustard, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. The recipe for the rub makes more than you will likely use, and you will probably have leftover for next time. This is a good thing!
How to Smoke Pork Butt
The morning of, I sit the pork out for an hour to let it come closer to room temperature. Then the pork butt gets smoked for 90 minutes per pound of meat at 240-250 degrees F. We always use a meat thermometer for determining when the pork is done, and it’s recommended to cook it to 195-205 degrees F. If you like it to be completely shreddable, cook to at least 200 degrees F. We like ours super tender and shreddable, so we always go to 200-205 degrees F.
While the meat itself is incredible and so flavorful, the creamy cilantro sauce totally makes these tacos irresistible. I make this cilantro sauce all of the time and in addition to putting it on our pork tacos, we love it on nachos, eggs, grain bowls, burritos, and even as a chip dip! Seriously, it’s so good.
Believe me, with this combination of smoked pork and cilantro sauce, you’re going to have people begging you to have them over for a BBQ!
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Smoked Pork Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Sauce
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 5 lb pork butt
Creamy Cilantro Sauce:
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeno stem and seeds removed
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- juice 1 lime
- 1/4 cup water
The night before:
- In a medium bowl, combine all of the rub ingredients together.
- Rub a generous amount of rub over the pork butt. You might have some rub leftover - just save it for next time!
- Cover the pork butt with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. I like to place mine in a roasting pan.
- On the day of, remove the pork shoulder from the refrigerator one hour prior to starting cooking.
- Preheat your smoker to 225-250 degrees F. We aim to keep ours around 240 degrees F.
- Smoke the pork approximately 90 minutes per pound, until the inner temperature reaches 200 degrees F, for shreddable pork. Note: the temperature often stalls around 145-160 degrees F. Don't worry - it will get past this range, it just takes a little longer.
- Remove the pork from the smoker and wrap with aluminum foil. Place in a cooler wrapped in towels to retain moisture and temperature, and let rest for 1 hour.
- Remove the pork from the cooler and shred.
To Make the Cilantro Sauce:
- Place all ingredients for the cilantro sauce in the blender and blend until creamy.
- Serve the shredded pork in taco shells topped with creamy cilantro sauce. We also love topping it with Mexican Street Corn Dip.